The news: According to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the federal prison inmate population has ballooned an alarming 27% over the past decade - and much of the increase is due to thankless mandatory minimum sentencing practices for nonviolent drug offenders.
The GAO report states:
"The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is responsible for the custody and care of over 219,000 federal inmates—a population that has grown by 27 percent over the past decade. BOP is composed of 119 institutions, 6 regional offices, 2 staff training centers, 22 residential reentry management offices (previously called community corrections offices), and a central office in Washington, D.C. With a fiscal year 2013 operating budget of about $6.5 billion—the second-largest budget within DOJ—BOP projects that its costs will increase as the federal prison population grows through 2018. […]
A variety of factors contribute to the size of BOP’s population. These include national crime levels, law enforcement policies, and federal sentencing laws, all of which are beyond BOP’s control."
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